How to Assemble a Successful Fashion Event or Runway Show

Fashion shows come in all shapes, sizes and most importantly: budgets. Many times emerging designers will pull the trigger on a show, not knowing the scope of time and hours of production involved and, unfortunately, not realizing the steps necessary to get there. But alas, there's a method to the madness, and if the budget allows it, it's probably best to leave it to the experts. There's nothing worse than taking on too much beyond your realm of expertise; with today's technology, your performance can be captured with photographs, social media and videos instantaneously allowing you to be judged and critiqued.

If you don’t have the budget for the experts, here are some tips to guide you into putting together a fashion event or runway show:

Create a Vision Board

Pull tear sheets, watch inspirational videos and research online to help you create your overall theme. Most likely it will come from your current collection, or if you are a retailer, from this season's trends. Keep a cohesive message throughout the show’s flow, allowing the viewer to take the journey you’ve laid out for them. Remember to always keep in mind the audiences’ viewpoint and what the runway shots will look like for press photos. You want to create a backdrop that doesn’t compete with the clothing, but enhances it.

Create a Budget Plan

Once you line-item all the key components, you'll see that models and stage set are the most expensive items in your budget. Models make the statement, so be sure they're in brand character to your line -- and don’t forget that fittings are crucial to a successful show. The staging, lighting and set are creating the picture. Pipe and drape for staging are very expensive to rent; so finding a location with a natural “backdrop” that is visually appealing can save you money.
Enlist the Experts

Hair and make-up, stylists and the oh-so-crucial backstage team can make or break you here. Find your creative team in your peers, or those you aspire to work with. Make sure your team works cohesively to enrich the collection. You can cut some of this expense by enlisting these resources for program or press release credit; they can use the show as a promotional tool or to capture a new audience. All shows are, in a sense, a work of art. There are many interpretations to productions and you can literally stifle the creative process by being the one-man-show.

Keep Calm And Carry On

Your No. 1 task is preparation. A prepared show producer alleviates crucial mistakes. As the saying goes: “You are only as good as your last show."

Amy Olson is a fashion show and event producer for luxury brands and emerging designers. Olson is a founding board member of the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street.

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